History and Art History

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

The Textual, the Visual and the Material

George Mason University is one of the few universities in the country that houses its Art History department not in a school of Fine Arts but along with the History Department.The result is an exciting synergy between faculty members and students from both programs. The department recently added yet another scholarly perspective to the mix—the history of the decorative arts—through their collaborative Smithsonian-Mason M.A. program.  Three disciplines are thus housed and integrated within one uniquely interdisciplinary department.  The three disciplines represent three different ways of accessing the past:  the historian, through texts; the art historian, through visual sources; and the historian of the decorative arts, through material objects.  The faculty in each program maintain a research and teaching emphasis specific to their own discipline while incorporating perspectives from the others.  Several of the courses in these programs are cross-listed with each other, allowing students in one discipline to attend classes and exchange ideas with students in another. The department also manages a Visual Resources Collection, an extensive annotated database of images for teaching and research.

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